Kid tested

Servers Laura Rocke and Andrew Moses work upstairs and downstairs at Sardina’s Italian Bistro.

Servers Laura Rocke and Andrew Moses work upstairs and downstairs at Sardina’s Italian Bistro.

Photo By Allison Young

Sardina's Fine Italian Bistro is open Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to close.

Sardina’s moved to a new location on Longley Lane about a year ago. Walking in, my friend Brett and I were a little confused by a small room with empty tables and a sign indicating we should seat ourselves or head upstairs for additional options. We decided to check out the upstairs, so we headed up a set of metal grate stairs. A small bar was set up in the corner, with wooden tables and chairs throughout the rest of the space and a slanted roof. The look is very strange, because the building is so modern, but the décor is sparse and older.

The number of kids having dinner with their parents surprised me. The kids were all well-behaved tweens but when I was that age, I don’t think my parents would have wasted their money taking me out to a nice dinner since my favorite food item was fishsticks. That, and I was annoying. We were brought some menus and waters by a young busboy who seemed to be making the young girls in the place all giggly and aflutter. Maybe that’s how the parents get the kids to come here and sit so quietly? The same busboy brought some bread, which unfortunately was cold, but it was served with an amazing roasted garlic, olive oil and Parmesan spread. I am not ashamed to admit I just started eating this by the spoonful—it was that good.

We decided to go with a bottle of Sanguinetta Chianti ($24) which paired well with the garlic spread but honestly, my water paired well with the garlic spread. Brett and I decided to start with salads. I went with the Caprese ($4 for side), and Brett went with the Caesar ($4 for side). The Caprese was good but in addition to the tomatoes and mozzarella, it was paired with salad greens, which was a little unusual. The Caesar had a dressing with a nice tang, but it was overdressed.

I had a hard time choosing what to order, because Sardina’s has an expansive menu with lots of tasty sounding items What I really liked is they offer the choice of plates or bowls. Plates come with sides, like pasta, veggies or mashed potatoes, while bowls can be split into half sizes. I wasn’t starving, so the half bowl seemed like a grand plan for me. I went with the eggplant lasagna ($8 for half, $14 for full). Even at the half order, this was a good sized piece of lasagna. The lasagna consisted of two layers of fried eggplant separated by ricotta cheese topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. The bottom layer seemed a bit undercooked, but I liked the ricotta cheese paired with the eggplant. Brett went with the shrimp and artichoke bowl ($8.50 for half, $15 for full), which arrived with a plate of pasta filled with spinach, tomatoes, artichokes and large shrimp tossed in garlic butter. He liked his dish but wasn’t blown away.

Everything was fine at our dinner, but nothing was amazing—except the garlic spread. The staff was friendly and efficient, but something about the atmosphere just didn’t do it for me. I think the mixed styles of the modern building versus the décor just wasn’t working. However, you can get a decent meal for a decent price at Sardina’s, and if you have kids, apparently this is the place to have dinner with them.